Will Iraq be able to achieve self-sufficiency in natural gas?

The Iraqi Oil Ministry announced that the Halfaya gas field in Maysan Governorate (south of the country) will enter actual operation at the end of next March. Ezzat Saber, Undersecretary for Gas Affairs of the Oil Ministry, said in his interview with the Iraqi News Agency (INA) that the field will produce 300 million standard cubic feet per day, explaining that the field will be added to the rest of the fields that Have entered production.

Last year, the Iraqi Oil Ministry launched a licensing round in the oil and gas sector in a continued government effort to increase associated gas investments in the country to meet the growing need for electric power generation, especially since Iraq imported Iranian gas. A lot depends on. Gas, which costs the state billions of dollars annually. The move comes in light of the possibility that Washington will not renew an exception allowing Iraq to import Iranian gas in view of rising regional tensions and the targeting of US bases in the region.

Many questions arise about the extent to which Iraq can achieve self-sufficiency in gas, especially in light of the large contracts that Iraq signed with the French company Total Energies and others.

big investments

Commenting on the increasing investment in Iraq for gas related to oil production operations, Parliamentary Energy Committee member Hatif Sahar al-Mishaal confirmed that the continuous burning of related gas over the years has had a negative impact on the Iraqi economy, indicating That the lack of investment in the associated gas sector in the previous licensing round between 2011 and 2011 resulted in huge losses as well as major environmental pollution.

Workers adjust the valves of an oil pipeline at the Nahr bin Omar oil field north of Basra, Iraq, on March 22, 2022.  Reuters/Essam al-Sudani Refile - Quality duplication
Large quantities of associated gas are burned in Iraqi oil fields (Reuters)

Al-Mishaal said in an exclusive statement to Al-Jazeera Net that his country turned to investing in associated gas two years ago, and that French company Total has contracts for projects that will come to light in mid-2026. Ending the country's associated gas burning problem, which will secure approximately 65% ​​of Iraq's actual gas requirement. This will have a positive impact on reducing Iranian gas imports, which costs the country about $4 billion annually. according to him.

He further said that the importance of investment in associated gas would reflect positively on Iraqi citizens, thereby eliminating the problem of burning associated gas, which has led to environmental disasters and the widespread spread of cancer in the southern oil-producing governorates.

A member of the Parliamentary Energy Committee revealed regarding the investment of free natural gas fields in the Okaz fields in Anbar Governorate (West) and the Mansouriya field in Diyala (East) that it is expected that the gas fields will be concerned in the seventh licensing round. will start soon, especially since many international Emirati companies, Chinese and Qatari companies are present in Diyala, Basra, Maysan, Anbar and other provinces.

In an effort to increase oil production and invest in associated gas, Iraq last July signed 4 contracts worth $27 billion with the French energy company “Total Energies”, which will provide the country with approximately 300 million standard cubic feet of gas . Apart from producing about one thousand megawatt of gas. Electricity through renewable solar energy.

Import continues

For his part, Dr. Nabil Al-Marsoumi, professor of economics and oil expert at Al-Maqal University in Basra, confirms that Iraq has 4 free non-associated gas fields, which are the Okaz field in Anbar, the Mansouriyeh field. in Diyala, Seiba in Basra, and Khurmur field in Sulaymaniyah, indicating that investments have not yet been made in the Okaz and Mansouriyah fields, while the field only produces the Seiba gaseous condenser.

Regarding investments in gas linked to oil production operations, Al-Marsoumi said the country's investments in the sector have increased by about 58%, and there is a cluster of investments in the Halfaya field in Maysan Governorate, worth 300 million standard. will produce cubic feet, in addition to other projects that will be completed within two years, and will provide approximately 1,200 million standard cubic feet per day, while French company Total's investment will provide approximately 600 million standard cubic feet per day.

Regarding Iraq's actual need for gas, the oil expert confirmed to Al Jazeera Net that Iraq's needs far exceed the production volume, and his country produces about 3 billion million standard cubic feet annually, half of which is burned. is delivered, while about 1.6 million of its standard cubic feet is invested at a time when it is needed… The country has about 40 million cubic meters of gas per day, which shows that if Iraq were to invest in all the associated gas If India invests, the production volume will not make the country self-reliant. -Adequacy, according to them.

Al-Marsoumi said that the need for electrical energy produced through gas in Iraq is constantly increasing, as the demand for electrical energy today is estimated to be approximately 36 thousand MW, while the amount of demand is expected to increase to approximately 70 thousand MW in 2050. hopefully.

Al-Marsoumi pointed out that the country will not be able to achieve self-sufficiency in natural gas during the next ten years, even if the government invests in natural gas fields, including the Khor Mor gas field, which has been repeatedly attacked from time to time. Keep happening. This shows that this sector currently provides about 80% of the energy. Electricity is produced in the Kurdistan Region.

Flames rise from oil refinery pipes in Basra, Iraq, July 23, 2020.  Photo taken on July 23, 2020.  Reuters/Essam Al-Sudani
The Iraqi government wants to end the issue of gas flaring associated with oil production operations to reduce environmental pollution and imports of foreign gas (Reuters)

Need to diversify sources

At the same level, economic expert Anmar al-Obaidi believes that there are a number of factors that limit Iraq's ability to achieve self-sufficiency in natural gas, whether free or associated, indicating that Okaz And leads to failure to invest in Mansuriya areas. Heavy imports of gas from Iran continued.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, al-Obaidi believes the Iraqi government should move to diversify sources of electrical energy production, particularly by investing in solar power and oil-fired power generation plants. apart from the need to accelerate its completion. Linking the national electricity network with the Arab Gulf states and Jordan, especially since Iraq imports Iranian gas, is not stable, and is subject to many determinants, perhaps the most important of which is fluctuations in Iranian imports, the fact that Apart from that, due to regional tensions the United States could end the exception that Washington gives to Baghdad to import Iranian gas.

Iraqi Electricity Minister Ziad Ali Fadel announced late last January that the country's power output had fallen by about 16,000 megawatts after peaking last summer due to a drop in Iranian gas supply rates. Capacity of 26,000 MW.

The Iraqi government continues its efforts to end the gas problem associated with oil production operations. Observers have described efforts to reduce environmental pollution and reduce foreign gas imports by an estimated 50% during the next few years as very important.

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